What a week!
First a job offer. Now a book deal!!!
The week began with me accepting a brand new job within my company. It ended with me officially signing off on something completely different and infinitely more exciting. This is what all those cryptic Facebook updates were all about. More on that in a moment.
As I wrote the other day, three years ago, I was a Client Services VP working for a large financial services company, ever wary that the blistering series of roster cuts would finally find me. Two weeks later, I got the dreaded call – and took that long walk to HR to receive my date of execution. And then one long year of unemployment greeted me.
A little under two years ago, I got the call from a friend and former co-worker that he had dropped my name in front of someone hiring at my former company. Someone who took a real shine to me. And in quick fashion, I was back baby – albeit in a different role with a significantly reduced salary. No matter – I was back! I had a job. That meant continued food and shelter. That meant the world.
Earlier this week, I received another call and officially accepted a new job within the company, returning to the Client Services world as a VP responsible for one of our major key clients. I’ll transition into the role sometime in the next 3-4 weeks.
I’d like to say that call erased those last three years but that would just diminish all the growing I did in that time. So, I’ll just say it feels good to be back where I’m supposed to be even if the nine-to-five isn’t what I set out to do way back when I first exited college and stared down the big bad scary world. I was made to write.
And as it turns out, the Internet has leveled the playing field. No longer do you need to confine yourself to a handful of cities or move West to the Emerald Coast to catch your rising star. If you stick your neck out online, you’re bound to catch someone’s eye. It’s a lot like fishing. You put a decent bait on and if you’re real patient, and have some idea of what you’re doing, eventually you’ll hook that big one. Or at least a modest sized fish that who knows – could lead to a bigger one down the road. It’s true what they say – there’s always a bigger fish.
Turns out the next Justin Bieber is a bald, old me.
I’ve prattled on long enough and you’d have to be a complete fool to read any further and just listen to me yammer without getting to the meat of it all. See the image above. Drum roll please.
In October 2012, just a few weeks before my play ‘The Monkeybar Mafia‘ opens locally for its world premiere – my first ever published book will hit stores shelves. Local shelves, that is.
Announcing – ‘Forty for Forty – From Boyhood to the Blogosphere‘. It’s being published by Hachette Book Group, likely under their Back Bay Books imprint. That last part is still in discussion and should be ironed out soon. Hachette is looking to roll it out regionally – all of New England plus New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania this Fall, with a street date tentatively set for Tuesday October 9, 2012. It will be available at brick & mortar stores (Barnes & Noble) under a limited initial printing – as well as online via Amazon – and of course, some smaller boutique book shops, day and date of the print release. As the details firm up, you know I’ll post it here.
So here’s how this all came about. It’s the age-old “one thing led to another” scenario.
Early this year, I secured the copyright to ‘The Monkeybar Mafia‘. No sooner did that certified letter arrive at the house then I began receiving almost daily solicitations from a variety of shady fly-by-night publishing houses looking to partner with me to publish my work sight unseen, provided I give them a little cash advance of several thousand dollars. The usual scam mail.
But through all this detritus, one offer stood out. It was from Hachette and immediately I could tell it was different. For starters, they led off addressing ‘Monkeybar‘ by name – unlike the other solicitations that were pitching me on everything from authoring Bonsai Gardening Self-Help Guides to ghost-writing lyrics for country western ballads. These guys had done a little homework when that copyright hit the street and knew what I was into. So, unlike the others, I actually dialed up Hachette and listened to what they had to say. Right off the bat, I was let down gently.
They weren’t interested in publishing a play – so Monkeybar was immediately off the table. That’s the catch when applying for a copyright. Plays and books get lumped in the same category so it can be tough to differentiate one from the other. So, while I was on the line, the rep asked me if I had other writing samples or treatments. I think he was just trying to salvage the call and his precious time. I got to talking about my Blog – telling him how it began and the types of things I’ve written for the site. He asked if I’d ever considered bundling posts together and publishing a book of essays and I admitted I had but didn’t know how to tie them all together.
Then I started in on my ongoing series, ‘Forty for Forty‘ and he just cut right to it. “There it is!!!”
“There’s what?“, I replied. I’ll admit, this conversation was flying so fast and furious I found it hard to keep up.
“Forty for Forty!!! Forty blog posts painting a picture of a life. From boyhood to fatherhood and beyond. That’s an experience. THAT’S A BOOK!!!”
I kind of laughed it off. Seemed stupid. Seriously, who would buy that? Hell, I’m giving it away for free on a week-to-week basis to my friends and family and even I’m not sure anyone reads this stuff or even cares. Seemed like a stretch to sell it to the Soccer Mom Mob or Playground Posse*.
(*Hmmmm… Monkeybar Sequel?)
But that’s not how Blake saw it. Now, he did caution me. He said he’d have to read through AND OF COURSE pitch it to the brain trust BUT he thought there was something there. At the very least, he thought there might be something in my connection with him. Maybe plant a seed here to see if I could grow something for them. So – we left the call at that – with Blake promising to get back to me within a week or two.
Three days later (this would be late January) I got the call. Blake wanted me to finish writing the rest of the Forty for Forty posts (at the time I was half-done and just so you know, they’re all now completed and sitting on stand-by awaiting their call). Also, he wanted me to write some additional passages – the connective tissue that would tie it all together. So I did just that. And in the evenings after the kids hit the hay, or the weekends when I could steal an hour, I wrote and edited and polished it up. And in mid-February, I sent it over to these guys.
It’s amazing how quickly things get turned around in the publishing world these days. I think the Chilean Miners read their collective biography WHILE trapped in the mine.
About 2 weeks later, I got a call from Blake saying we needed to talk contract. Now, I’m not making a mint here. Nobody’s retiring off this. But it will make for a nice little savings boost – AND – if the book sells well, there are incentives tied into a percentage of sales kicking back to my coffers. So – tell your friends and neighbors to scoop them up. Don’t wait for the library copy. Help me Ed Heads – you’re my only hope.
Last week I got the all clear to announce the deal. With my signature on the dotted line, the company passed on a final galley edition for me to review. The editors had worked their magic, really hammering this into shape, and had even passed it on to some review sites to get those oh-so important book jacket blurbs that help move merchandise. Hence, the glowing recommendation by Kirkus on the cover.
That said, the cover could change. They’ve cautioned me that almost anything can change, including release date, although with a regional first printing, Blake thinks we’re locked in. And if it sells well, it will open wider.
So, that’s the big news. Who knew that in looking back upon my own personal ‘Forty for Forty’ the most exciting chapter would be the one still unwritten. Like a good novel, I can’t wait to see what comes next.
And if you’re interested in a sneak peek, click this link for a short introduction to the book. Consider it my little gift to you. I couldn’t have done any of this without all of you.
As always, thanks for reading.